Senate Bill 757: After hearing from residents around the state, the Majority Leader moved 757 to a vote on the floor. This bill allows city or township clerks with a population of over 25,000 to begin the pre-processing of absentee ballots a day early to aid in the expected overflow in absentee voting during the 2020 election cycle. Passing this bill means that city clerks and election staff will not be completely inundated on Election Day, allowing them to deliver reliable election results earlier. We heard from many of you, and from clerks throughout our district, asking for support on SB 757.
I voted yes. The bill passed 34 -2, and now heads to the House for consideration.
Senate Bill 892: Creates state regulations for Automated Delivery Device — effectively small robots that would deliver packages to doorsteps by traveling along sidewalks. Here in Michigan, there are a number of companies developing similar small delivery vehicles, but there are also still many regulatory questions that would need to be thought through before allowing broad deployment, such as questions around liability and insurance, when and how could these small vehicles use the street vs. sidewalks, what happens if people tamper with them, etc. — all of which were not answered in this bill. In my view, it just wasn’t ready for a vote.
For these reasons, I voted no on SB 892. The bill passed 22-16 and has since been referred to the House Committee on Transportation for further review.
Senate Bill 855: Requires the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to establish standards for Complex Rehabilitation Technology (CRT); this technology is designed to help those with significant disabilities such as spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, spina bifida and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). The standards to be established dictate that all equipment made for these individuals must be measured specifically for them under Medicaid. This is an important step forward to ensure that all have access to necessary medical equipment.
I voted yes. The bill passed 37-0 and has been sent to the House to be referred to committee.
Senate Bill 1103: Allows marijuana tax revenue to be deposited into the Michigan Transportation Fund (MTF), potentially adding about $2.7 million in additional revenue.
I voted yes. The bill passed 36-0 and has been sent to the House to be referred to committee.
House Bills 5443 & 5444: Creates the Kinship Caregiver Advisory Council within the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) aimed at identifying the needs of kinship caregivers in the state and provides guidance to them on how to best support children in their care.
I voted yes. The bills passed 37-0 and were sent back to the House for a concurrence vote.
Energy and Technology Committee:
This week we took up Senate Resolutions 142 & 143 which encourage the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) to re-evaluate rate design options for electric customers across Michigan. These changes in the rates would account for customers off the grid, distributed generation rates and implementation, as well as the integration of new energy technologies.
Similarly, Senate Resolution 143 encourages the MPSC to complete a study of Michigan customer usage and generation by Dec. 31, 2022. The study would focus on addressing issues including reliability, interconnection, grid integration, and more. Such a comprehensive study allows for Michigan customers to end up saving and helps encourage alternative energy usage.
For the past few months, our committee has been debating multiple bills that would either raise or remove Michigan’s strictest-in-the-country residential solar energy cap, ensuring that residential solar companies could continue to grow and operate in the state, and providing consumers a real alternative to traditional utility energy service with some stability around rates.
While I voted in favor of moving these resolutions to the Senate floor for a full vote, I also expressed concern that we may be running out of time before this cap is hit in certain areas of the state and encouraged the committee to continue our work toward either a temporary, or permanent, resolution. You can watch a video of that commentary here:
This week, the Governor’s office and legislative leadership reached an agreement on the spending parameters of the upcoming state budget, ensuring no reduction in funding for K-12 public schools and no cuts in revenue sharing for local governments. Amidst the continued uncertainty of this pandemic, this was welcome news for our schools and local communities.
However, our state — like all states across the country — still faces a significant revenue shortfall due to the impact of the pandemic, and difficult decisions will need to be made on spending.
Discussions surrounding more specific areas of the budget are currently happening in appropriations subcommittees. We will keep you posted as conversations and votes continue.
Our community is in a truly unprecedented time as we enter into the sixth month since the pandemic hit our state. Taking care of your own mental health and wellbeing is more important than ever. September is National Suicide Prevention Month, something I take very seriously. Preventing suicide is a public health issue that we can all take part in. Knowing the warning signs, and taking them seriously, is key to preventing suicide. Similarly, raising awareness reminds those who may be struggling that help is available and there are many resources to utilize.
Oakland County has worked diligently to treat suicide as a public health crisis that deserves attention and well-funded resources. A link to Oakland County’s Suicide Prevention resource page can be found here. On Sept. 22 and Sept. 29, Oakland County will be hosting “Suicide Prevention 101: Virtual Presentation”. Registration is free and open to all. Other resources and links are posted including: the “Suicide Prevention Toolkit for Parents”, the Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255), and a guide to understand the Warning Signs of Sucide.
DISTRICT NEWS & EVENTS
Oakland County Michigan Works! Job Fair
Reminder: Oakland County Michigan Works! is hosting their first virtual job fair on Sept. 23. Over 50 Oakland County companies with hundreds of open positions are participating in this exciting event! For additional information and how to register, please click here.
Tuesday, Sept. 8: Meeting with MichAUTO and the Detroit Regional Chamber I met with representatives from the automotive industry to hear how Michigan’s largest industry is faring in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In our discussion, we shared mutual priorities for attracting, maintaining, and upskilling talent within our state to ensure we are best prepared for whatever lies ahead.
Wednesday, Sept. 9: Meeting with Oakland Community College Speaking of the auto industry, OCC has become a local leader in developing talent in the exciting space of robotics, AI, software development, and other high-demand careers necessary to help our signature industry evolve. We discussed their facilities and desire to modernize and expand.
Monday, Sept. 14: Birmingham City Commission Attended the Birmingham City Commission meeting to share a legislative update on the budget, voter education ahead of the upcoming election, and a few bills in the legislature, including Senate Bill 757.
Monday, Sept. 14: Superintendent’s Breakfast I joined legislators and superintendents from around Oakland County to discuss the impacts of COVID-19 and current legislative issues, including how they affect education — most notably the upcoming budget and how our local schools will be impacted.
Tuesday, Sept. 15: Pharmacy Day My chief of staff and I sat down with pharmacy students from our district to discuss current legislation and the role of the pharmacists in the community. We talked about the challenges of attending school virtually, the impacts of so many people losing their jobs during the pandemic (and, for so many, the health insurance benefits aligned with them), and I shared my role as a state legislator vs. issues on the federal level to help these students better understand how to advocate for themselves — and their issues with elected officials.